Conveniences such as refrigeration
drawers and pot filler faucets are among the amenities people
favor in kitchens today. Islands continue to be at the top of
peopleís must-have list, area designers say.
Fireplaces, lounge areas, mood lighting
and plasma TVs. Area designers say these are the features their
clients want in the most-used room of the house, the kitchen. Of
course, traditional kitchen elements such as refrigerators, stoves and
dishwashers still have their place, and experts say people are
personalizing those, too.
"People used to gravitate toward
one style, but now they are more eclectic and design their personality
into the room," says Colleen Craig, designer for The Kitchen
Center. "Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, it should
show who you are."
Kristin Warltier, designer for Trifecta
LLC, says she finds kitchen layouts getting larger, the technology
getting savvier and the color and materials selections making more of
a design impact. "Kitchens are brainier, bigger and bolder,"
Russ Waters of Wisconsin Kitchen Mart
agrees: "Function is just as important as aesthetics."
Hereís what is hot now in Milwaukee
area kitchen design and what we can expect to see in the very near
Comfortable, larger spaces
When space is not a consideration,
kitchens are getting larger. Even in small spaces, designers are
helping clients create illusions of spaciousness. Warltier says the
trend is toward a more comfortable kitchen. That does not always mean
that the space includes a dinette area. Now people are incorporating
fireplaces or lounge seating. Designer David Lyon says seating areas
with comfy chairs are being worked into the kitchen.
televisions and computers are making their way into kitchens.
(Photo courtesy of Hi-Tech Homes)
Marianne Kohlmann, RCI-Remodeling
Center Inc., says lounge areas and even café settings are becoming a
predominant feature in the kitchen.
Lyon predicts that the concept of one
large, open kitchen and family area will fade away and return to a
more formal kitchen and butlerís pantry. Even though a seating area
will remain, the feeling is that the main dining area will once again
be separated, he says.
Blair Williams, vice president of
development for Mandel Group, agrees with Lyon. He says the kitchen
will remain the soul of the home, but a renewed appreciation for a
more formal dining room experience will resurface.
Islands as gathering places
Lyon says the trend toward kitchen
islands remains strong. "In various shapes and sizes and serving
various functions, islands are without a doubt at the top of a clientís
want list," he says.
Kohlmann agrees. "Islands or
peninsulas are very popular," she says. "People want
gathering spots and are looking for ways to connect the kitchen to
Designers agree that lighting is
playing a key role in the kitchen. A variety of light sources from
under cabinet and down lights, to tracks and decorative pendants are
being incorporated. Dimmers and smart control panels allow owners to
create various moods within the space while shedding plenty of light
for getting the work done. Donít forget sources of natural light,
too. Windows, glass doors and skylights are being worked into these
rooms to flood the area with natural light, so even the smallest space
appears open and airy.
"Mood lighting is important,"
Kohlmann says. In addition, she says people are paying more attention
to ceilings in order to add another dimension to the space, including
the addition of skylights. Cathedral ceilings, coffers and soffit
details are also prevalent.
Alan Freysinger of Design Group Three
points to the use of decorative pendants as focal points above
islands. He attributes the attention to proper lighting as a result of
the aging of America and the increased amount of time people spend in
These designers find that lighting
design within the kitchen will continue to be a strong trend in the
future. Watch for more lighting within cabinets to highlight glass and
art. Lyon also predicts the integration of under-counter lighting to
This pull out spice rack by
Wood-Mode is one of the creative
ways to maximize storage space in
Warltier notes that some clients are
incorporating Internet technology into the kitchen. Some are mounting
flip-down screens under cabinets. The touch screens allow easy access
to recipes and other information.
In addition, she says, plasma screen
televisions are making their way to the kitchen.
While these technologies may seem
elite, they are part of the future of kitchens. The efficiency and
convenience of a variety of kitchen
appliances is an area consumers currently find worth the investment.
According to Freysinger, pot filler
faucets continue to be a convenience that many clients integrate into
their space. Espresso machines, warming drawers, steaming drawers,
larger ranges and ovens are other key appliances currently popular.
Lyon notes that people are rethinking
refrigeration systems and considering different drawer options. He
also describes the construction of many drawers and cabinets as having
self-closing features or extra-strength hinges and glides to hold
Williams predicts people will downsize
their major appliances and incorporate more of the drawer systems to
allow for convenient locations in key work zones.
The idea of key work zones vs. a
transitional working triangle is a current trend and one that
continues to develop. People are recognizing their work habits and
organizing their kitchens to meet those needs. It is not just about
having an island so guests can gather and watch the chef. It is about
how the space can be organized to accommodate multiple people lending
a hand and enjoying the process. Prep zones, cooking zones and cleanup
areas are part of this design. In fact, you may find multiple cook
tops, ovens or even dishwashers in order to meet the needs of each
Not only are people making their
kitchens efficient, they are keeping them clean. They want to enjoy
the aesthetics of the space. Storage systems help maximize cabinet
space and keep appliances off the countertops. Kohlmann notes the use
of gadgets within cabinets such as wine racks, spice racks and pull
out pantries. Clever ways to use corner spaces have also been
Lyon incorporates spice racks that drop
down from under the cabinets or appliances that are lifted off the
surfaces. He finds the traditional base and wall cabinet applications
are disappearing as people rethink storage and find ways to maximize
space, even using floor-to-ceiling lazy Susans. Lyon says kitchen
ergonomics is a huge trend with considerations being made to raise or
lower typical counter heights to accommodate various tasks or personal
preferences. And drawers and shelves on glides eliminate a lot of
Countertops, floors and cabinets
While the options are endless in this
arena, the decision-making has only just begun. Material and finish
selections offer endless aesthetic
Across the board, people continue to be
drawn to stainless steel and the industrial or commercial kitchen
appliances such as the restaurant style pull-down faucets. Freysinger
notes that some people are looking for ways to disguise the appearance
of appliances with panel applications.
Williams says stainless steel is trendy
but will lose its staying power along with the super-sized appliances.
He predicts consumers will get more size savvy in the future.
"There will be a move toward convenience, consistency and
efficiency," Williams says.
Some people, according to Warltier, are
now opting for a honed or flamed finish to create a different look.
Honed granite results in a smooth, dull finish, while a flamed
treatment gives a rougher texture with a bit of sheen. She also notes
that the shiny stainless is losing popularity to more natural patinas.
Craig notes that her clients most often
use granite or a product called Zodiaq for kitchen countertops. Made
by DuPont, this is an engineered stone made of natural quartz. Granite
has flaws, veining and varying color, so for those who want a
completely consistent granite look, she finds Zodiaq to be the answer.
Dark wood tones in maple and cherry as
well as painted cabinets are dominant. The designers agree that
painted finishes with glazing or antiquing is an option many consider.
They want a furniture look to cabinetry rather than the consistent
These cabinetry details fall in line
with the style trends. People seem to be embracing the sleek, modern
aesthetic or steering toward a traditional or French country look.
Oil-rubbed bronze, weathered brass or copper are used as metal
finishes as an alternative to the stainless steel. Future trends will
find the increased use of more exotic woods and a mix of lacquer and
Aside from these typical finish
selections, many people are experimenting and combining multiple
materials. The options are endless, so you may find cork, bamboo or
tile for flooring materials. Concrete, tile, soapstone, teak, granite
or solid surface materials are considered for countertops. Finally,
walls are dressed in color, texture and pattern through the use of a
variety of tiles or bold paint colors. You will even find tile murals
and mosaic designs incorporated with decorative hoods for focal points
within the kitchen. The hoods alone offer a dramatic statement within
the room and many people are paying close attention to this design
Williams poses the question: "What
about the kitchen makes it special, what makes it personal?" The
current trends find people making more educated decisions about their
selections from both the functional and aesthetic perspectives, and
experts say to look for even more personalization in the future.